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Sam Stein

Political Reporter, The Huffington Post

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President Obama Softens Super PAC Opposition

Posted: 02/06/12 11:34 PM ET  |  Updated: 02/07/12 09:18 AM ET

Obama Super Pacs

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's campaign is reconfiguring its approach to powerful super PACs, worried the president's re-election prospects could be overwhelmed by conservative groups raising and spending unlimited amounts of money.

The president's advisers have signaled to donors that he will soften, for the time being, his long-standing opposition to the outside groups, in hopes of assisting their fundraising efforts and leveling the campaign finance field heading into the general election. Obama's campaign staff will go so far as to appear at super PAC events -- though they will not be explicitly raising money. The president will not attend those events, a source confirmed.

The new posture is a reversal for the president, and one likely to trouble some in the progressive universe (see: Feingold, Russ). Obama was staunchly anti-outside money during his pre-White House political career, and first ran for the White House encouraging deep-pocketed Democrats to send checks only through his campaign. He wanted a consistently coordinated message and his advisers were willing to starve non-campaign organizations of cash in order to achieve it.

When the Supreme Court issued its Citizens United opinion allowing the creation of super PACs, the president and his staff offered sharp denunciations.

"I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests," Obama said at the time. He called super PACs a "threat to our democracy."

Politics eventually collided with ideology. In 2010, a wave of conservative money helped Republicans re-take the House of Representatives. The president and his advisers have watched in some horror, meanwhile, as super PACs have helped Mitt Romney submarine challenger after challenger (most notably Newt Gingrich) during the Republican primary this year. The determination was made that they could not unilaterally disarm.

As campaign manager Jim Messina said in a blog post late Monday:

With so much at stake, we can't allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.

Therefore, the campaign has decided to do what we can, consistent with the law, to support Priorities USA in its effort to counter the weight of the GOP Super PAC. We will do so only in the knowledge and with the expectation that all of its donations will be fully disclosed as required by law to the Federal Election Commission.

Currently, two former Obama aides -- Sean Sweeney and Bill Burton -- run the most prominent Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action. But that group has been vastly outraised by its conservative counterparts. And the notion that it could bring in the $100 million once projected now seems quaint. Burton was quick to take advantage of the Monday evening news with a well-timed tweet.

"As has become evident in the past month, the only enthusiasm in the Republican Party is among oil company billionaires and investment bankers on Wall Street looking to defeat President Obama," Burton said in a statement. "We're committed to providing a balance to Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, who have pledged more than half a billion dollars to their effort."

The Obama campaign itself has done fine with fundraising. But as recently as last week, top donors fretted that one well-financed GOP donor could level the playing field if he or she desired.

"The money for the campaign side they will do fine, ultimately," a party fundraiser told The Huffington Post. "I think the problem is on the super PAC side ... If I were on the campaign, I would be waking up and saying this is a big f--ing problem, we are going to get buried by these super PACs. And our side, the Democratic side, is not on a level playing field here."

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's campaign is reconfiguring its approach to powerful super PACs, worried the president's re-election prospects could be overwhelmed by conservative groups raising ...
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's campaign is reconfiguring its approach to powerful super PACs, worried the president's re-election prospects could be overwhelmed by conservative groups raising ...
 
 
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02:27 AM on 02/13/2012
Imagine a SuperPAC serenading its special candidate with a rock 'n' roll song like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1HAzTQqefA&feature=youtu.be
03:38 AM on 02/12/2012
Regardless how I feel about the designated hitter in baseball, I'd be a fool to have my pitchers hit when in a game that allows the DH.
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Llib Noswad
aka: Bill, Conservative
07:00 PM on 02/09/2012
"President Obama Softens Super PAC Opposition"

Too funny, what a hypocrite.
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dad4lifesl
Educated White Heterosexual Male & a Proud Vet!
05:29 PM on 02/09/2012
Softens? Can you say complete flip-flop?
HUFFPOST SUPER USER
beachinstead
socialist libs other countries need you
11:05 AM on 02/09/2012
obama continues -- say one thing and do something else, say he is going to do it this way and then lies and back tracks that is they way he rolls!
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
Mover
Father, Husband, Ret 1SG
10:26 AM on 02/09/2012
The headline should be changed from "President Obama Softens Super PAC Opposition " to "President Obama admits he never really opposed Super PAC's"

He has been taking their money all along anyway.
HUFFPOST SUPER USER
beachinstead
socialist libs other countries need you
11:06 AM on 02/09/2012
true, it is that simple!
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drhooper
Hurting people...hurt others
01:38 AM on 02/09/2012
Obama is using a common sense approach....something that appears to be lacking from the other party.

Anyone with common sense knows that you don't enter a Nascar Race (Daytona 500) with a souped up lawn mower. Obama Common Sense 2012
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Mover
Father, Husband, Ret 1SG
10:32 AM on 02/09/2012
Kool aid alert!

If you consider accepting huge sums of money from corporations, something Pres. Obama has been doing all along, "common sense", then I guess you prefer that he represents them while pandering to you.

"... souped up lawn mower. "

Democrats have been touting the excellence of using tax dollars to support political campaigns and you are telling everyone that it is better to accept funding from huge corporations?
06:46 PM on 02/09/2012
Ahh, the GOP. It's good to know that what's good for the goose is not in fact good for the gander. Your post about where Obama gets his money, while skipping over where good ole' Newt and Mitt get there's from is priceless. So let's talk about that Kool-aid...
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bekakiraly
The Right thinks, the left feels.
10:34 PM on 02/08/2012
'bama is worried.
04:38 PM on 02/09/2012
Yes he is as he should be.
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l78lancer
Wisdom is the principal thing
02:33 PM on 02/10/2012
The only thing wrong with being worried is doing nothing about it.
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IndyvoterRob
Libertarian and loving it
04:50 PM on 02/08/2012
Wow what a surprise Obama went, once more, against his prior position when it suits him politically.

What a spineless worm.

He has 1 billion dollars in his war chest. Enough to build countless homeless shelters and feed tens of thousands of hungry children.

Yet he needs more money for his negative attack ads most of which are devoid of fact.

What has happened to our Nation when one needs more the 1 billion dollars to obtain a position as a public servant?
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bekakiraly
The Right thinks, the left feels.
11:20 PM on 02/08/2012
It's because people need to be brainwashed into accepting 4 more years of BS. It's a lot of ads and plates at fundraisers.
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l78lancer
Wisdom is the principal thing
04:46 PM on 02/08/2012
So the rightwing is countering with "Obama raised $750 billion in 2008 and has much more than McCain so he doesn't need super PACs."

What made you think that you were going to get a codified, securitized advantage endorsed by the Supreme Court and the democrats would just sit back and let you take advantage? If it's legal, it's legal. NOT taking advantage of it would have been stupid.

Even though it irks you, legal means legal for republicans AND legal for democrats. If you didn't want Obama to take advatage of something tfor which YOU fought to make legal you should not have done it yourselves.

If super PACs are legal you need to stop your crying about the "honor system" you expected Obama to maintain when there is absoultely nothing honorable about rightwing PACs, super PACs, and most GOP cantidates.

Don't expect a win without a fight.
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IndyvoterRob
Libertarian and loving it
04:53 PM on 02/08/2012
Good points on how both sides should be able to buy elections. I'm glad you do not need the tired old "standing on principles" type of leader and would rather have someone who blows in the wind.

/Sarcasm
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l78lancer
Wisdom is the principal thing
05:47 PM on 02/08/2012
LOL! Yes, I am feeling the love. Do you know what a non-cynic is in a cynical world? A martyr.
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Mover
Father, Husband, Ret 1SG
12:24 PM on 02/10/2012
"So the rightwing is countering with "Obama raised $750 billion in 2008 and has much more than McCain so he doesn't need super PACs." "

I believe you are confused (spiked kool aid perhaps?) Mr. Obama raised $750 Million, with an "M". Not $750 Billion with a "B".

It's no wonder how some people get elected.
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l78lancer
Wisdom is the principal thing
01:56 PM on 02/10/2012
The most significant thing you've said is "million" rather than "billion." Thanks for catching that typo.
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peskyliberal
From my Blue Heaven
03:29 PM on 02/08/2012
I'm loving this!! The GOTP is losing its s#!t because the President decided not the bring a knife to a gun fight. Hate the Game; not the Player.

So, are you going to see the GOTP introduce a bill to reverse the Supreme Court ruling regarding Citizens United?
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l78lancer
Wisdom is the principal thing
04:47 PM on 02/08/2012
LOL! On point. Love it.

F/F.
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IndyvoterRob
Libertarian and loving it
04:54 PM on 02/08/2012
I find your urban "gangsta" language while speaking of our POTUS both demeaning and racist.

I'm offended.
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bekakiraly
The Right thinks, the left feels.
11:23 PM on 02/08/2012
haha Indy
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l78lancer
Wisdom is the principal thing
02:38 PM on 02/10/2012
That is so weak. But since that's they only thing you can criticize that means you must agree with the comment otherwise.
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Mover
Father, Husband, Ret 1SG
01:30 PM on 02/08/2012
This article, while mentioning Obama's true money making proclivities (which is good), is an exercise in Orwellian double-speak and political dissembling. Everyone seems to forget that Mr. "I won't take corporate or lobbyist money", has done exactly that since at least 2007 when he was telling his supporters how rotten those guys are how he won't take their money.

Can you say Three Quarters of a Billion Dollars?

Do you believe that most of that came from blue collar workers who were losing their jobs, homes and retirement accounts? I can, without fear of contradiction, say they real blue collar workers do not even think about sending money to politicians of any ilk in the vast majority of the time. To believe that these folks are sending money to the Obama campaign while at the same time wondering where their next meal is coming from is ludicrous.

President Obama has not changed his money gathering ways, he has is now simply owning up to what he has been doing all along. And to add insult to injury, recall his campaign stance on hiring lobbyists and compare it to the 17 lobbyists he hired in the first days of his new administration.

Who will bet that the GOP candidate will agree to accept public funds after candidate Obama reneged on his last promise?
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l78lancer
Wisdom is the principal thing
04:57 PM on 02/08/2012
When PACs "Willie Hortoned" Dukakis and "Swift-boated Kerry" it was all good and the republicans were fine with the influx of outside money and nasty messages that were not directly associated with the campaigns. The democrats have flipped the script on the right and now the right is in a state of panic.

The page has been turned. Neither the right nor the left will go back to the old FEC rules unless the current laws are changed to take all private money out of elections. I won't hold my breath for that.

"Obama reneged on his last promise?" It's going to be difficult to guilt people out of using common sense here. You are going to lose this election and the next holding on to thought.
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Mover
Father, Husband, Ret 1SG
12:29 PM on 02/10/2012
“Neither the right nor the left will go back to the old FEC rules unless the current laws are changed to take all private money out of elections. I won't hold my breath for that.”

I have a couple of issues with this remark.

1. The old FEC rules were worse than the new FEC rules, and all are only selectively complied with (Google “Charlie Trie”) and McCain-Feingold made it worse.

2. Taking private money out of elections is a horrible idea. That would mean that the campaign money would handed out by government bureaucrats or political operatives (is that redundant?). It would mean the in crowd gets represented and you and I won’t be.

If you want campaign finance reform, follow me. I say only allow eligible voters to promote individual campaigns. Remove monetary campaign influence from non-constituents (e.g., no money from Illinois to candidates in Nevada). Get rid corporate and special interest PAC’s. Corporations and special interests should only be allowed to pay for issue advertisements that affect their business/activity.

“It's going to be difficult to guilt people out of using common sense here.”
Guess if you’re a snake oil salesman then telling lies is perfectly acceptable. I always found it interesting that Democrat partisans are quick to point less than stellar behavior by Republicans, but give their guy a pass on integrity.
10:54 AM on 02/24/2012
F&F...
Great reading from someone with "KNOWLEDGE"...
09:30 AM on 02/08/2012
If you're a conservative, this is a good news, because it means the dems are seriously rocked. On the other hand, the timing works out best for the Dems because by the time the nominee is named, all will be forgotten. Personally, I still haven't let go of 3 years without a budget, credit downgrade, Black Panthers in Philly intimidating elderly women, Rev Wright, "God Damned America", BO not releasing school transcripts, BO making a decison to be Black in "Dreams", $5T+ Debt in 3 years, and asking for more, racial and class devide, jam a half baked health care program down the throats of Americans. For 25 years I have followed the BLS closely. The difference now, as to the past, is the number of unemployed who no longer qualify for benefits. Once the 5.4M people UE benefits expire, unemployment may be back in the in 4% range. BLS is going to lose it's clout in defining unemployment. OK morning rant over. have a nice day.
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Michelle Juel
10:56 AM on 02/08/2012
You certainly can't be a republican then, as most of this is caused by the republican party. I wish you had said in your post. I don't get where you think we have had 3 yrs with no budget, since it is a constitutional mandate, The republicans made this debt and have caused all of this upset with the class divide as this is their goal, as well has most of the joblessness. Guess you don't remember having gone through some of this with the first Bush. If you think you are republican, then reread what you wrote and research it if you think the democrats did this. About the only thing they did do is the healthcare, which is a great thing, and we are the only civilized country in the world without a healthcare plan, so it is more than time. People can't afford proper healthcare, and it causes 97% of all bankruptcies in this country. So, if you think that was not needed you are sadly mistaken.
11:08 AM on 02/08/2012
no executive budget. I pay for my own healthcare. I am famialiar with the amount of debt and where it came from which is exactly why I have a problem with the current situation. I suggest you go back and research and find out who signed the checks, and who cashed them. I pay far more then my share in taxes.
12:48 PM on 02/08/2012
Wow you couldn't be more wrong. Get facts, know the truth, and DONT quote HP and Soros and DNC sites as they are full of misstatements and lack facts.
06:00 PM on 02/08/2012
Cold Breadth

Welcome NEW fan!
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seriouslyfalling
07:47 AM on 02/08/2012
Surely after Obama broke his promise to stick to government funds for his campaign in 2008, no one expected him to be honest in his criticism of Super Pacs! After all, he plans to raise a billion dollars and so far is falling short of his goal, so he has to have Super Pacs to fill in the gap. And he has no problem at all participating in something he has called a "threat to our democracy".
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Michael Leinbach
09:25 AM on 02/08/2012
If this doesnt prove Obama has no Solid values and the Presidency is about him and his EGO then I dont know what does.


He said if our Economy isnt turned completely around by 2009 then he wont be reelected for a second term and now he thinks he deserves one?

What I dont get about Liberals is why they love this man. I think they simply love him because hes NOT GWB. And that is the only reason. They dont even see that GWB did not cause the financial issues in this country. Clinton did! And because Bush was a war time President he gets a bad rap. What is a threat to our democracy is OBAMA.
10:31 AM on 02/08/2012
Funny..
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Michelle Juel
11:03 AM on 02/08/2012
He is a complete genius as he has proved on many levels, and has gotten more done in his first 3 yrs then W did in 8 yrs of tearing this country down. To be a republican, you have to be a white male making over $3 million a year, as that is who they cater to. I doubt you fall into that category.
Obama has seen now, who BUYS the election for these idiot republicans, as their mission is and has been for the last 30 yrs, to cause a great depression so there will be only two classes, and the poor will owe everything to these elite. Unless you want to be there, you had better wake up. And since you don't seem to know anything about Presidential politics, the debt started with Reagan and all of his deregulation of industry. He was also the first President to dip into the SS to fund his star wars policies. Now that is in trouble. You sure don't know much about this yet you open your mouth??? Why do you think you are a republican, when it is so evident you aren't? What makes that so special people think they want to be one? I thought I was one too, until I worked for some republican senators and Reagan, boy did that open my eyes. You need to have yours opened or don't vote as you do more harm than good if you don't know anymore than this.
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IndyvoterRob
Libertarian and loving it
04:56 PM on 02/08/2012
I call him a threat to our democracy. He just force all Americans to fund abortion.
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BeachSurfer
American, Italian Catholic! Don't attack Catholics
09:03 PM on 02/08/2012
BeachSurfer

IndyvoterRob fanned
Awesome post thank you for saying what is on my mind!! God Bless you! Beach Surfer!
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BeachSurfer
American, Italian Catholic! Don't attack Catholics
09:08 PM on 02/08/2012
BeachSurfer
He does not have the right to fund abortions!! Allowing killing of innocent babies this is a Sin why is he allowing the Devil to control him!!

Obama you have now made yourself by allowing this to be a part of the killing of innocent babies a Sin!! Beach Surfer!!
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don52
11:41 PM on 02/07/2012
Obama is going to accept super PAC money so the democrats can compete with the Republicans. Who can blame that decision. We've all seen how the politicians have become so partisan that they cannot make any meaningful decisions. The campaign season is all about big money. A record amount of money is going to be spent. Every four years its another record spending amount,before long it will be a trillion dollars. There is one thing we can do. Don't donate to any political action group, republican, or democrat or candidate. In fact, I would suggest that the TV be turned off in October. We all know what is important to us and the mud of half truths that they sling on TV should not be a deciding factor in any decision. I think that they call it the art of advertising. If the politicians see that the American people are not going to support the political conundrum perhaps they will take notice. Let the millionaires support the candidates and make your donations to charities. I'm suspect that this fall there will be many in plenty of need. The big business of politics needs to get a message from the people.
04:07 AM on 02/08/2012
have you checked out how much O has made already with his $38,000 a p late dinners and th e$15,000 photo op? And you dare to criticize the Republicans - this has been going on for ove 3 years - while he is the president of this country. you people are dense.
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Mover
Father, Husband, Ret 1SG
02:22 PM on 02/08/2012
"Obama is going to accept super PAC money so the democrats can compete with the Republican­s."

Compete with Republicans. Are you joking?

Obama gathered over 750 MILLION DOLLARS in 2007-2008, mostly form.. wait for it... PAC's and "bundlers". The McCain didn't even have half that much.
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IndyvoterRob
Libertarian and loving it
04:57 PM on 02/08/2012
Hell Soros himself can pony up that much for his puppet.